Times Internet’s live quiz app BrainBaazi is partnering with Airtel to launch a live cricket quiz for Airtel users. The HQ Trivia-inspired quiz app claims to have around half a million concurrent viewers on most nights. With this partnership, the Airtel TV app will host a daily cricket quiz for as long as the Indian Premier League is running. Loco, another quiz app that runs on the same format, has had a similar cricket quiz since the IPL began. The quizzes will run at 7:30pm (BrainBaazi) and 7:50pm (Loco), which is just a few minutes before most primetime IPL matches start airing.

Loco’s co-founder Abhishek Madhavan told MediaNama that the more niche cricket quiz format has been a success. “We launched [the cricket quiz] keeping in mind the cricket/IPL craze and that has been validated,” Madhavan said, referring to BrainBaazi picking up on the idea. “These are cricket-only quizzes and the fact that more than 100k turn up for each game is stupendous.” While Loco has been giving out ₹50,000 split among winners each game, the Airtel–BrainBaazi combine is said to be giving away ₹250,000 per game.

Even Star, which owns global TV and streaming rights to the IPL, has cashed in on the trivia craze — Hotstar runs a quiz right below the video stream on mobile devices, inviting users to predict what the outcome of the forthcoming ball will be, along with the occasional three-option trivia question. But unlike Hotstar, which hands out discount codes, for the most part, BrainBaazi and Loco hand out real money to winners. And they’re growing huge, with hundreds of thousands of users in just a few months. BrainBaazi’s partnership with Airtel is a sign that these apps are reaching mainstream adoption, with established players taking note of the potential.

How live quiz apps work

All live quiz apps in India have essentially started cropping up in late 2017 to 2018, in the aftermath of HQ Trivia’s success. HQ Trivia has a simple format — answer twelve trivia questions that have three options each. The questions get gradually tougher, and if you get even one question wrong, you’re out. The prize money for the day is equally split among all the winners. HQ Trivia’s payouts usually range from $2,500 to $5,000, but they occasionally have much larger pots — they gave away $25,000 on Monday night, with just 44 winners winning over $555 each.

Indian developers haven’t been trailing far behind. Soon after it became clear that live quiz apps had huge potential, everyone from a programmer duo creating a crowdsourced version where the users contribute questions to Times Internet wanted in on the action. From Loco to BrainBaazi to Qureka to Bigshow to Mob Show, there are a dizzying number of live quiz apps, most still developing their viewership. Loco and BrainBaazi both give away ₹100,000 each night, while other quiz apps are still scaling their audiences. Pretty much all of them let users cash their money out to their Paytm wallets. Growth has been tremendous, with Loco and BrainBaazi alone getting hundreds of thousands of viewers even before they’ve gotten around to putting out an iOS version of their apps (both are only available on Android).

The cricket quiz is one example of localizing for the Indian audience — both quiz apps also have a Hindi interface, while hosts mostly speak in Hindi.

How are these apps making money?

Fair question, since they’re all giving away lakhs of rupees each week just to winners, not to mention the development and video streaming costs that come with live streaming to hundreds of thousands of users. Right now, most quiz apps, HQ Trivia included, are funded by larger organizations who can afford to build an audience before monetizing through ads. HQ Trivia is still holding off on taking significant steps towards monetizing. BrainBaazi obviously gets prize money to give away from Times, whereas Loco, which was recently acquired by Pocket Aces, is probably enjoying similar patronage.

But Indian quiz apps have already started. Times Internet has experimented with monetizing BrainBaazi with travel website Yatra — in some quizzes, there was a “Yatra.com question of the day”, and users who got it right would get a discount coupon for the website texted to them. Loco, on the other hand, has been experimenting with phone maker OnePlus, and will be giving away ₹600,000 (split among winners) on Thursday to people who answer questions to which hints are hidden in OnePlus’s device launch stream.

In any case, having hundreds of thousands of users paying rapt attention to the screen for almost fifteen minutes is an advertiser’s dream, one they’re willing to not run any ads for a while to fully cash out on.